What's new in California for travelers
What's new for travelers in California, from San Francisco airport's yoga room to Disneyland ride renovation.
Seattle Times travel writer
Visitors flying out of San Francisco will find waiting for a flight a bit less stressful this spring.
After struggling to get their carry-on bags, liquids, laptops and shoeless selves through security, Virgin America and American Airlines passengers using San Francisco International Airport's Terminal 2 can unwind before their flight in the airport's new yoga room.
The airport outfitted a 150-square-foot storage closet with hardwood floors, yoga mats and mirrors after a visitor suggested the idea to director John Martin, a yoga practitioner.
The dimly lit room painted a soothing blue "has been used constantly" since opening in January, said airport spokesman Mike McCarron. Five or six people can practice at one time.
Airports normally horde terminal space for retailers who bring in revenue. There is no charge for using the yoga room, which McCarron calls "just good customer service."
Alaska Airlines passengers who fly out of Terminal 1 may soon enjoy the same perk. "We're considering other terminals right now," McCarron said.
Cleared for takeoff
Los Angeles International is one of seven U.S. airports where the Transportation Security Administration has been testing PreCheck, a passenger pre-screening program to roll out later this year at 28 more airports, including Seattle, San Francisco, Portland and Anchorage.
High-mileage frequent fliers with American Airlines can participate in the Los Angeles test phase, as well as travelers enrolled in trusted traveler programs (such as Global Entry and Nexus) administered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Once passengers are pre-cleared as "low-risk," TSA directs them to special security lines where most no longer have to take off their shoes, jackets and belts or remove liquids and laptops from carry-ons.
Vintage rides in Sonoma
Winery tours by private limo are common, but leave it to California promoters to come up with a new way to drink and not drive. The state's travel and tourism commission reports that Sonoma Valley visitors can visit wineries in an open-air motorized replica of an 1890s San Francisco cable car.
The Sonoma Wine Valley Trolley tour includes visits to four wineries and a picnic lunch. The trolley runs daily and picks up at five Sonoma locations.
Tickets are $89 per person. See www.sonomavalleywinetrolley.com.
Bay watch in S.F.
Bay Voyager has launched a San Francisco Bay tour in Navy Seal-type rigid inflatable boats. The boats can carry up to 12 people and provide access to hidden corners of the San Francisco Bay. Rates start at $75 per person (four-person minimum) for a one-hour, 45-minute cruise covering the downtown, the Marina District and North Beach areas. See www.bayvoyager.com.
Matterhorn ride closed
Think twice if you're planning to take the family to Disneyland before mid-June. The Matterhorn bobsled ride, the park's first roller coaster and one of the most popular rides, is closed until June 14. The Los Angeles Times reports the Matterhorn is undergoing one of the most extensive overhauls since it opened in 1959, including new cars and a fresh coat of paint on the mountain, but no extensive changes to the ride itself.
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Travel Wise is aimed at helping people travel smart, especially independent travelers seeking good value. Drawing on her own experiences and readers', Carol Pucci covers everything from the best resources to how to tap into the local culture. Her column runs each Sunday in the Travel section.